Four Fine Forefathers!
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We took a hike with a ranger up to the architect's headquarters. Took lots of pictures! The young ranger told us fantastic stories about all the presidents - Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt, and Lincoln - He grew up near Washington DC and his parents dragged him all over taking him to historical places (who would do such a thing!). He has a passion for history and is a great story teller! It was facsinating to connect all the tales with all the places we had just been.
The architect, Gutzon Borglum was quite a character. He named his son Lincoln. And is son became the first National Park Ranger! Theodore Roosevelt created the National Parks to preserve these natural areas
The kids earned another Junior Ranger Badge! How many is that now??
Then we stopped at Wind Cave National Park. They didn't have a cave tour until 6:00, so we bought the tickets and went on to the Mammothe Site.
The Mammoth Site in Hot Springs, SD, was pretty cool! 35 years ago, a bulldozers unearthed some bones. They have discovered 34 mammoths and counting! Millions of years ago a sink hole developed and they think some mammoths were drinking and fell in. It was so steep, they could not get out! So their skeletons were preserved in this pond exactly the way they fell in. This is probably the only place you can see actual fossils because most of the time casts are made of the real ones. Archeologists and volunteers only dig for one month a year because it takes them 11 months to catagorize all their findings
So then.....we went back to caves! We took a guided tour down over 150 feet (that's 15 stories!) below the surface! It got to be about 57 degrees. Quite a difference from 95 degrees outside. These caves are different because they have 'boxwork', an unusual cave formation composed of thin calcite fins resembling honeycombs. The kids did great - really paid attention to the stories the ranger was telling. Katrina even stayed up front with the ranger and talked her ear off! Ben wasn't too crazy about cave last year when we went to the Oregon Caves, but he enjoyed it this time. They were intrigued about the 16 yr old boy, Alvin McDonald, who explored the caves by candlelight in the early 1880's! He even gave the first tours. Unfortunately, Alvin died at the age of 20 from pneumonia. It was pretty dark when the ranger turned out the lights to show us what Alvin would experience when his candle blew out! The kids completed another workbook and earn another badge....#11? Two in one day today!
On our way back to camp, we drove by Mount Rushmore once again to see it all lit up! Very cool. Katrina was really looking forward to it after a conversation with a lady in the bathroom!